Diversionary Brings Back the Old School Days with Legacy Revival of

The Mystery of Irma Vep, Closing 2022 in Absolute Comedic Style 

A Blog View by Alejandra Enciso-Dardashti

Luke Harvey Jacobs left and Bryan Banville right. Photo by Peggy Ryan 

Diversionary brought us great pieces this year like One in Two and Azul. I feel tha to close out 2022, the theatre company went back to its essence with The Mystery of Irma Vep, a play written by American playwright Charles Ludlam, and premiered in New York in1984. This production full of farce, comedy,  and quick changes, satirizes Victorian melodrama, UK popular literature and even an Alfred Hitchcock film. The joy of these types of plays is that both connoisseur's and people who have no reference, will have a good time. That, is the beauty of theatre and good theatre-making.

The plot has 8 characters that are portrayed by the two actors: Luke Harvey Jacobs and Bryan Banville. Lord Edgar is an Egyptologist that lost his wife Irma Vep three years ago. He's remarried to Lady Enid who is trying to get comfortable in her new home and with the house staff, Jane the maid, and Nicodemus a sort of handyman/wrangler that often gets frisky with Jane. There is a vampire, a werewolf, an impromptu trip to Egypt where a mummy is involved and apparently Ms. Vemp is alive. The almost two-hour piece is fast-paced, super campy, and excellently performed. Co-directed by Artistic Director Matt M. Morrow & Allison Spratt Pearce, both Harvey Jacobs who plays Lady Enid and Nicodemus amongst others, and Banville who portrays Lord Edgar and Jane mainly, have comical chemistry, sharp witty adlib ability and undoubted fun onstage which goes through the audience leading the way for energy exchanges that make the experience even more exciting. Not only are they delivering their lines and being crisp, they are listening to the audience and sort of estimating the reactions. They also use the entire space going on and off the stage, up and down the aisles, and in between the rows. I even got some action with Bryan, as he almost sat on my lap while delivering his hilarious performance.  
Luke Harvey Jacobs left and Bryan Banville right. Photo by Matthew Herman

The program for the play holds a green insert with interacting instructions for the audience when a certain word or bad joke come up , to respond by making a specific sound or action like stomping the feet. 

Matthew Herman's scenic design of the main area -with a secret passage and hidden cell- of the English estate along with the scenario for the Egyptian escapade topped with Alyssa Kane's cool props definitely take audiences to the different settings the storytelling is going to. And again, using the whole space in order to deliver an even better experience. Having two actors continually exchange wardrobes and wigs from male to female in a matter of seconds could not happen without Brooke Kesler's cool and practical yet snazzy costume design along Peter Herman's wig design. Those caps have to be pinned tight!

I referenced Diversionary going back to its essence because this queer, fun piece takes me back to productions like She-Rantulas from Outer Space in 3D and Well. Plays that are fast-paced, performed with tremendous ability that linger after leaving the theatre. An excellent way to close the year.

This is a piece that totally celebrates theatre and should be treated as such going out to enjoy it with friends more than once.

The Mystery of Irma Vep is running from Thursday to Sunday until December 24 with added performances on Wednesday December 14 and Wednesday, December 21 and tickets start at $20 dollars. For more information please click HERE.

Luke Harvey Jacobs left and Bryan Banville right. Photo by Peggy Ryan

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